Dapper Day Trip: Part 3: 4/30/2017: Princess Hunting

Hi everyone! May the 4th Be With You!

My initial plan for this day was to both start and end at Hollywood Studios, since it had a morning Extra Magic Hour…that plan didn’t work out. Despite having had WAY less to drink over the course of the day and night, I was feeling the crash. (Crashing the Mode…)  It was also probably the late nights two in a row, and the barely sleeping on Thursday night, but you know…also alcohol. SO, I decided to sleep in a bit and just Rope Drop Epcot.


I also had to get dressed, and do my hair. I’d gone back and forth on how to do my hair for my Dapper Snow White Disneybound, but I wound up going with my “Leia Hair,” which, I realized was also very German looking. So, that worked. I did run down to the market and grab some hairspray though. That style just doesn’t hold on it’s own.

The outfit? I owned the blue tank top from life, the red belt also just from life, and the yellow skirt is my Betty Cooper (Archie Comics) skirt. The gladiator sandals are my favorite part, because they made the outfit pop and pull together the concept, which was, “Snow White meets Roman Holiday.” I also bought a necklace with a red apple charm.


I made it to Epcot with minutes to spare before opening and then walked quickly onto Soarin. I love this ride. It’s so beautiful and the new movie is even more stunning, I then moved quickly to Norway, as I wanted to continue the ever important Princess mission, and met Elsa and Anna. Elsa winkingly asked me if I liked snow, and she explained that when she and Anna and Kristoff have snowball fights, she’s not allowed to have team mates. Anna and I talked about my braids and how she’s been considering wearing her hair up.

After that, I had a Spaceship Earth fastpass, and I love that ride too, but you all know that. I then debating figuring out breakfast, but really wasn’t that hungry yet, so I did some Photopass stuff, and walked around a bit, before my Character fastpass came up. I then went to Epcot Character spot which I REALLY recommend as you get Mickey, Minnie and Goofy all knocked out in one shot! 


On that line I chatted with a Dapper couple behind me, before heading back to World Showcase for more Princess Hunting!

I went for Jasmine, Mulan and of course, Snow White, before lunch at Tokyo Dining. Part of what I’m trying to do in life these days is eat in a more considered way. So, by having a single spicy tuna roll and one cocktail, rather than a big fatty lunch, I really got to enjoy my food. Also Tokyo Dining is a really lovely setting with delightful views of showcase lagoon.

I ran quickly after lunch to meet Aurora, and decided to skip Belle, which I rationalized by the fact that I’d had 2 encounters with her in February.

It was off to the Living Seas lounge for the Dapper Day party next and um, much like The Boathouse the whole thing was underwhelming. I know I’m meet up spoiled by Comic Con culture, but no one was mingling and no one was dancing. So, I had one drink and left. The lounge itself is cool and I think if I weren’t solo, I’d have enjoyed it.


I went back to the hotel then, to charge my phone, sleep maybe, and figure out my next step. I wound up at heading to Victoria Falls for a glass of wine and the goat cheese appetizer! I chatted with a young dad who also happened to be an early programmer for Facebook. He does live near me, but we otherwise had little in common. Still it was a nice chat, and due to certain family connections/my old job, super rich weirdness doesn’t throw me anymore and I can wait to roll my eyes until they leave.

Then it was off the Studios! I snagged a fastpass for The Great Movie ride and got quite emotional at the narration (RIP Robert Osborne!) it’s such a fun ride and this wound up making my MONDAY way easier…next up I headed to Launch Bay to meet BB8, cursing myself for not packing my Poe Disneybound (I almost did too…) 


then I rode Star Tours, (Vader, Pod Race, Cruiser Battle, Courascant) and met Olaf quickly! It was still a bit before A Galactic Spectacular, my main reason for ending my day here, so I decided to check out Tune In Lounge.


I am so glad I did that! I tried Grannie’s Punch, chatted with the bartenders and then got a spiked milkshake to go with about 10 minutes to spare.

I really enjoyed A Galactic Spectacular and had my usual overly emotional reaction to all things Star Wars during it.

I was holding it together, through “Binary Sunset”, and “The Princess And The Smuggler” and then, well…

“You were the chosen one! You were supposed to end the Sith, not join them. You were my brother Anakin, I loved you!”

Now even under the most banal of circumstances that speech will get me tearing but add in the basically bottle of vodka I’d drank over the course of the day, the fact that I was in Disney and I’m still stomping for “Rey is a Kenobi!” I was sobbing. (My new theory is that they’ll use this fact to add some symmetry to the possible redemption of Kylo Ren. Which without Leia needs grounding, if it’s going to happen at all…a Kenobi redeeming a Skywalker would do it) After that I knew it was time to call it a night and headed back to my room.

The next and final day is epic in scope…and you’ll hear about it next week, because Movie Season begins tonight with Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2

Dapper Day Trip: Part 2: 4/29/2017: Hurry Back…


Day 2 of my trip took me to Magic Kingdom for a day of fun and fantasy and of course, vintage style, as it was officially Dapper Day. I was up early as LIKE HELL was I going to miss Park Opening. I was determined to leave my room for the bus by 7:45 and I did just that, getting to Magic Kingdom and finding myself walking right down the middle of Mainstreet by 8:15. I happily made it to the bakery, where I ordered a venti white mocha (I’m on vacation! I even let myself have regular milk and whipped cream!) and a chocolate croissant.

I’ve read online about the chaos of the mainstreet bakery pre opening and while it certainly isn’t calm, I can’t help but wonder if this is written by people who have never worked in midtown Manhattan and had to get a latte at 8:00 am and then open a store geared towards children…or maybe they have, I don’t really know. Anyway, it wasn’t busier than Starbucks at that time, and I had my latte and made my way to the hub, to watch the opening show.

Uh, new opening show is fine. It’s cute, but lacks the nostalgic memory of Let The Magic Begin, and the Main Street component, which was always wonderful. I definitely would have lined up on one of the bridges earlier if I’d seen it before, anyway, I after that I worked my way over to Peter Pan, and I really do love that line. And I got my first “real person” compliment of my outfit, with some people who would wind up circling back around later in the day.

As for my dapper day outfit…well, I channeled The Haunted Mansion, wearing a green dress that I’d gotten for Christmas a few years ago, and black lace gloves from my “ghost” Halloween costume this year, and my Black Canary choker. I got a bow on Etsy, and I was really excited about it.


Much like many of my cosplays, I was happy to see that I was in the middle of the Dapper Day spectrum, some people were more mellow than I was and a lot of people were MUCH more intense, but in general I was right along with the others I saw.

After Peter Pan I crossed the street to Small World and then The Haunted Mansion, and you want to know what’s really fun? When a Haunted Mansion cast member can’t keep a straight face and bust out, “OMG I LOVE YOUR DRESS!” as your Doom Buggy crosses the threshold.

After Haunted Mansion I headed back to Fantasy Land to redeem my Seven Dwarves fast pass, and then met up with Merida. THE PRINCESS QUEST CONTINUES! She was very excited by my green dress.


Then it was off to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain, over to Adventureland for Pirates and then to Frontierland, for my Splash Mountain fast pass. Splash Mountain was down, and would remain so for most of the day (at one point, Splash, Space and Mine Train were all down…that’s not great). So I held onto the fastpass all day, because I didn’t want to NOT ride Splash Mountain if I could help it and I knew once it got working again the line would be bonkers, but it was also deadly hot and I was getting really hungry, so I opted for to head over to Epcot to get lunch.

While I kind of wanted to go the Flower and Garden Festival booth route, it was nearly 100 degrees out (yes really) so I decided I’d better sit inside. As I sat on the monorail and rode over, I started fantasizing of a light but filling meal, and something sparkly, refreshing and alcoholic. That left me, really, with 2 World Showcase options, Italy and Japan, and Italy won, because the thought of a glass of prosecco was too tempting. I was going back and forth between getting a personal pizza at Via Nappoli or hoping I could get a seat at Tuto Gusto, and a personal pie would have still been nearly $22, I went with Tutto Gusto.

I was taken almost immediately to a table and looked through the menu. I went with the Prosciutto De Parma Panini, which came with a small wedge caesar salad….light, filling, exactly what I wanted. And that bubbly and refreshing alcoholic beverage I was talking about? There was a “All Bubbly, All Day” flight available, which was HEAVEN. It came with three samplings (but Epcot samples are, you know, normal pours at any other place on earth…that’s why I love it.) One light and sweet bubbly white, another drier option and then a sparkling red. (Not Rose Regale, which is my favorite, but still quite good.)


Once I stepped out of Gusto’s cool dark doors back into the 97 degree heat I knew that I wasn’t going to make it much longer without a break, so I walked out to Beach Club and called a Lyft back to the hotel. (This was my only cab of the weekend, I’m very proud of that. I also had EXCELLENT Disney Transportation luck).

You know how sometimes, you’re really tired and hot and all you can do is get a pina coloda at a pool bar and then go back to your hotel room and strip down to your underwear for about an hour? No? Just me? Well, that’s what I did. Frankly, the whole thing felt very Hannah Horvath, except I kept my bra on and I was in Disney World, which I feel like Hannah would never do. (Marnie and Shosh, DEF, but not Hannah.) After charging my phone and a glass of wine, I redressed and headed back over to the park.

Splash was still down and it was still 10 million degrees out, so I decided that it was time for character meet ups, any of which took place inside. I started with Ariel. We chatted about dancing. (Last year, the Princesses were all about my love life, this year they were WAY into the dance parties. I prefer the dance parties…) I then decided to try for Tinkerbell, but quickly realized that there was a Dapper Day special photo shoot in the main square at the double decker bus.


I got in line, and managed to check out the flag retreat right before I took the picture.

Here’s the thing about the flag retreat and patriotism in general, with me, at this particular moment. I really love my country. I love what it stands for theoretically, I love the way that it’s grown in it’s relatively short history. I love it’s capacity for change more than anything. When I hold my hand over my heart and sing “God Bless America,” especially the words, “stand beside her, and guide her,” I mean it. I want my Lord to bless and guide my country. You all know my politics, or, if you’re new, um, you can read, this, or this. I’m not having a great time politically right now, but I still love my country, I just feel like that needs to be justified and I hate that. Anyway, it was really nice, and I was glad I caught it. Also, I don’t think that this particular ritual, in a theme park, is meant to evoke that kind of deep thought, but all my patriotism evokes it in me at the moment.

I moved on and then got my picture taken with Tink, which was very fun. Her meet and greet is delightful and she’s almost more energetic than Rapunzel….


Oh and speaking of. I headed back to Rapunzel and Tiana during this stretch too. Rapunzel was not my favorite this trip, Tiana beat her. Rapunzel and I talked about my purse and hugged a bunch, but Tiana and I had a dance party, because she said my gloves reminded her of having dance parties with Charlotte. So we danced and it was awesome. Rapunzel still has the edge, having been consistently pleasant 4 visits in a row, but LITERAL DANCE PARTY WITH A DISNEY PRINCESS will win the day every time.


After all of this, I decided that I wanted dinner and thought I’d give going to California Grill (lounge) a shot. But even getting to the desk had a line, so I said, “nope,” and hopped on the monorail and headed to Trader Sam’s, which really is just the absolute best. I made friends at the big communal tables, and ate some dumplings, and had a Dark and Stormy. After that, I quickly I hopped back on the monorail and headed back to get into place for Wishes.

I knew this would be the last time I saw this show, which I saw for the first time when I was 11 years old. (Or, that’s the first time I remember it, at least.) And I was ready to cry. As usual “Friend Like Me,” and the final chorus got me, but I didn’t weep. This is probably for the best…

While I was on line for Tinker Bell, I chatted with a couple who’d gotten paper Fastpasses for Splash Mountain but were planning to leave to park, so they gave them to me (WHAT?) I decided to use them post Wishes to visit with Cinderella and Elena. A quick visit got me closer to my ultimate goal. (Upgraded from “visit the Princesses I didn’t see in February” to “ALL THE PRINCESSES!!!!”) Splash Mountain was up again, so after watching Once Upon A Time full through, which I hadn’t done before, I’d seen bits of it in March, but never the whole thing, it’s a very good show. The projections are wonderful and I will seriously never get over the collective Main Street sing-a-long to “Let It Go,” although my guess is when Happily Ever After premieres and “How Far I’ll Go,” is likely included, well, that’ll win. I then went and headed to Splash Mountain. I was joined once I got on the log by the same folks I’d hung out with at Peter Pan. I didn’t recognize them (I’m the WORST!) but they recognized me so it wound up being a very fun ride. We sang, we laughed, we posed for the camera.


I then popped over with my last fastpass to Big Thunder, which, OMG RIDE BIG THUNDER AFTER DARK IF YOU CAN MANAGE IT. I’d never done it before, but it was incredible. Everything feels more intense in with the cool lighting and effects. I then had a choice to make. Ride Pirates again or finish up at Haunted Mansion. I opted for Haunted Mansion.

I was the last person on the ride. Which was both terrifying and really cool. I had a staring contest with the maid running the stretching room, which she won, because I kept laughing.


I haven’t found The Haunted Mansion actually scary in maybe 20 years, but riding it alone, with no one else around is deeply creepy. Fun. but VERY creepy. I then headed back to Mainstreet to head back to the hotel, where I ran into my Peter Pan/Splash Mountain friends again. They’d gone to Pirates. I immediately had regrets, which immediately disapated, when they said my story sounded way more fun. I got back to the hotel, settled in with some more of that wine that I’d brought down and fell asleep watching Nate and Jeremiah: By Design. (My mom had surgery a few weeks ago, I’ve watched a lot of TLC and HGTV, I had 100% seen this episode before, and I was thrilled to watch it again.)

Tomorrow read about my day at Epcot and evening at Hollywood Studios!

Dapper Day Trip: Part 1: 4/28/2017: Jet Set

So because I have apparently lost my mind entirely, (and also…well, it’s kind of a long story…) I headed back to Walt Disney World this past weekend, only 2 months since I left it previously. This wound up being a solo trip, which was great. I’ve now done this twice and I’ll keep doing it occasionally I think. (Not always to Disney, but I have every intention of traveling a bit more next year!) So let’s get started.

I took a 6 AM flight, because it was cheap, and it wound up being a really good call. I got to the airport at 3:45 AM, and napped at the gate and on the plane. Landing at 8:30, I quickly made my way to Magical Express, and settled in to do my makeup while I waited for the bus, as Kristi and I had last trip. Not before I blended my foundation and concealer did my bus show up! YAY!

I finished my makeup while waiting for the bus to fill, and by 10:30 (yup, 2 hours again, I was less stressed about it this time…) I was at Animal Kingdom Lodge and changed, and THEN I got the text that my room was ready. (WHATT?)

My very badass view!

So I found said room, and stored my carry ons, and then headed over to Magic Kingdom. It was a fifteen minute wait for that bus, and I just kept thinking, “here we go again!” When it came to transportation woes, and forsaw many MANY Lyft rides in the future of this trip…


I had a 12:05 reservation at Be Our Guest, and I was excited because, OMG Be Our Guest, and also I’ve now had all three meals at the castle.

So how was it? Well…the food was good. I ate the Croque Monsieur, which came with frites, and had a Diet Coke and The Master’s Cupcake. (Grey Stuff icing on a chocolate cupcake.)

Yummy lunch!

It was great. The sandwhich was well grilled, with more ham than cheese, and on very good whole wheat bread. The Frites, were frites, not American style fries, but thin cut and crispy, which is a nice detail. The cupcake was good. Not my favorite delivery service for Grey Stuff. (That would be the Tart that I had it in at dinner in February, followed by, “alone” and then the brownie and then the cupcake)

I know this makes me both a terrible White Girl (TM) and Disney Fan, but I’m not crazy about cupcakes. Or cake in general.  I like cake, but it’s not by favorite sweet or desert. I prefer a flakier pastry like a croissant or Napolean, or something a little bit thicker, like a pie or tart. Actually I’d always pick pie over cake, given the choice. Which is why I prefer the tart to the cupcake. But, it’s an exceptional cupcake, very moist, chocolately and not only topped by, but filled with grey stuff. Which is, you know, delicious.

But I digress, I ate in The Rose Gallery, which I really love, and I’ve now eaten in all three rooms of Be Our Guest as well as all three meals. Here’s how I rank them:

Meals:

  1. Dinner: There’s just no beating how special dinner at Be Our Guest is. The food is delicious and the whole thing feels magical. Meeting the Beast is always super fun and this meal has wine! (Wine always gets a point in the win column.) Plus it has the Grey Stuff tarte, which I already said was my favorite way I’ve had it…
  2. Breakfast: This is not just because it gets you into Fantasyland early. Although that’s a nice bonus. I still think about the Croque Madame and the INCREDIBLE bechamel, which was why I ordered her husband this time, which was not as good. (A fried egg goes a long way…) and overall the whole experience was dignified and calming.
  3. Lunch: Lunch is chaos. It’s good. But it’s also loud and feels rushed. Also the sandwich is not as good. It lacks the fried egg and the sauce. Which, I mean, is the nature of the Monsieur over the Madame, but seriously, I LOVE that Croque Madame… Madame.

Rooms

  1. The Rose Gallery: It’s so nice in this room. It’s really beautifully designed and feels calmer than the ballroom, which I also love and where I’ve eaten both dinners. But there’s something so creative and lovely about The Rose Gallery, even though I ate my least favorite meal there, I really love the space
  2. The Ballroom: That snow, and The Beast walking through at dinner, and the chandelier, walking in this time, I really wanted Dan Stevens to come up to me and spin me around. (He didn’t) (A girl can dream) (Also, he’d probably not like me very much because I’d just keep asking questions about Downton Abbey, which he doesn’t like talking about apparently…)
  3. The West Wing: The West Wing is cool, but it’s too dark and small to be great for me to eat in. I like the rose, and I bet dinner here is cool, but I really wasn’t nuts about it when I ate breakfast there…

I love the music box so much!

I then headed over to The Haunted Mansion, because, I mean, have we met? I chatted and made friends with a mother and daughter on line, and was thrilled that my first ride was also my favorite. I exited and toyed with going on another ride, but I also really wanted to take a shower, so I decided to head back to the hotel and told myself that if my bags were in my room (A rented studio villa, BTW…this room is HUGE…) I would shower and then head over to Animal Kingdom. If they weren’t I would explore the resort, maybe get a drink or some food and THEN take a shower, assuming my bags would have shown after that. The bags were in the room, so I opened up the bottle of wine that I’d packed…unpacked, and then showered and put on my first Dapper outfit.

What I had planned on wearing, I haven’t quite lost enough weight for yet. (I am down 25 pounds since Christmas and about 35 overall! I’ve done it on Weight Watchers…do I get to talk to Oprah about bread now?) So, Mom and I scrambled on Wednesday night and put together this adorable, Jackie-O on Hyannis type look. The white jeans were actually bought for the last trip, and I wore them on Day 1 then too. The top I’ve had for a while, and you might recognize it from my Maergary Tyrell casual cosplay! I put my hair in a bum and tied a scarf around my head, and wore a pearl statement necklace that Mary gave me for my 26th B-day and some cool funky earrings. I also grabbed the Finding Nemo purse that Julie made for me, and headed right to Animal Kingdom.


I waited a grand total of 3 minutes for a bus. Which was a delight. I got to Animal Kingdom and just WANDERED for about an hour. I also got a mojito. I drank a lot less on this trip than last, because I’m trying to drink less in general these days, but I’m not a pod person. Anyway…Mojitos at Dawa Bar, not quite my friend Cha’s mother’s home made ones good, but REALLY good. I did the Maharajah Jungle trek, because I wanted to see the tigers, but their area is currently under construction, so no tigers, bats and birds galore though.

I am the night…ETC

That was followed by Everest which only had a 30 minute line and no single rider.


I also had a fast pass, but the coaster wound up broken down, so I was very glad I wound up doing it. I then grabbed another drink from Thirsty River, and decided to wander some more, and wound up right at Adventurer’s Outpost where there was only a 10 minute wait, so I decided to say hey to Minnie and Mickey.


There was so more wandering, and eventually, I found my way to Character Landing and said “Wangapo” to Pocahontas, and this round of “Reenie meets Princesses” began. (My objective: Meet all the Princesses I didn’t meet last time…I did it, AND THEN SOME) Both Pocohontas and Minnie loved my outfit.


I was getting pretty hungry so I headed to Nomad Lounge which was HOPPING because it turned out the Disneyland Imagineers had had their tour of Pandora that day. I chatted with the bartender, ate some fish tacos and tried the Night Monkey (delicious, I had two!) (I was pretty drunk by this point…) I headed to redeem my safari fast pass.

It wasn’t the best safari…I miscalculated, thinking sunset was around 7, when it was actually 8…so most of the animals weren’t mobile and it wasn’t yet the cool “Sunset effect” and the nocturnal animals weren’t active yet…there were more deer and antelopes than I’ve noticed before but I think it was just because there were no giraffes or rhinos or whatever to distract me.

Zebra!!!

My next move was to get something more to eat, because while the fish tacos were yummy they were also tiny, and I had had a lot to drink. I wound up grabbing some falafel at Mr. Kamal’s, and a frozen Coke with Rum and decided to check in for Rivers of Life. There was still a good half hour before the show, but I had fried chickpea to eat and wound up chatting with a couple who were up from Jacksonville with their two young kids. We talked about the renting DVC points thing, which they were intrigued by and I heartily recommended. I explained that it could be kind of a pain, but that I was REALLY excited to get to have the rooms that I’ve had for the past two trips.

Rivers of Light itself started at 8:45, and I really enjoyed the show. The projection onto the water is very cool, as are the lotus and animal floats, and well, the whole thing really. It reminds me a lot of Illuminations actually, which, as Illuminations is my favorite show at Disney World…I think speaks very highly of it. It’s a little bit slow and arty, like Illuminations, and ties into themes about shared humanity and our planet. Unlike Illuminations, no fire or fireworks, because you know, you don’t want to scare the animals.

I hoofed it out quickly to the Disney Springs bus, in hopes of going to the Dapper Day meet up at the Boathouse. I did, and did get a beer, but no one was really chatting with people out of their own cliques, and I was pretty drunk and full and had been up since 2 in the morning, so after hitting Market Place Co-Op to see the new Dress Shop (AMAZING) and buying a really cute Tower of Terror Necklace (CUTE) I got lost looking for the bus stop and saw bits of Disney Springs I haven’t yet.

The regular “mall” portion of the area really reminds me of Las Vegas, in a good way. I think it’s going to be a thing going forward that Disney World actually competes with Vegas when it comes to young adults going on vacation. I know I prefer it. I spend the same amount of money on park tickets as I would gambling and have a way better time. (That said I did really like Vegas when I went, and would go again…)

So then it was back to AKL, and while Victoria Springs still had life going on, I knew I needed to crash, and crash I did.

I was up bright and early for my first official Dapper Day at Magic Kingdom…for that read tomorrow!

A Voice of A Generation

girls-finale-hbo-jessa-shoshanna

In the very first episode of Girls Lena Dunham’s clueless Hannah tells her parents that she thinks she might be the voice of her generation.

The joke here obviously is that Hannah is in no way shape or form capable of such of thing. Nor is it possible to judge such a thing while it’s happening. But I was twenty four, I watched that pilot not long after running out of money and time, and moving from a windowless bedroom in a shared Brooklyn apartment back to the large, beautiful house that my parents built while I was in college. And something about the show felt vibrant and real, and close to who I was in that moment.

Girls taught me a lot over the past six years. Reading about and disecting it taught me even more. But the main lesson I got from the show, was that “representation matters.”

Now I’m not talking about the fact that Girls is problematic in it’s general diversity, I’m not talking about the fact that Dunham herself is a difficult personality to push past, because both of those things are true, I’m talking about the fact that I’d never seen something hit what my friends and I were going through in a specific moment so squarely as season 1 (and to a smaller degree season 3) of Girls did.

I am a rich white girl with artistic aspirations. (Though every character on this show refusing to get a day job always drove me absolutely bonkers) (Except Shosh. I mean obviously.) Girls is literally about people like me, and I’d never seen anything that was literally about people like me before. I’d related to characters and stories, but never had anything so specifically fitting my profile hit before.

Which brings me to representation. I never knew that I was missing representation until I saw that representation. And I want everyone to have that moment of recognition. To hear a character say something, even if that something is perverse and obtuse and disconnected from most of reality, that hits your reality so fricking perfectly that you will love that film, TV show, piece of music forever.

Cross identification in fiction is wonderful. It builds empathy and understanding and expands minds. I wouldn’t be the person I am, if I didn’t see parts of myself in characters that were nothing like me. But the sheer power of seeing someone so close to myself, even in four parts, as I did when I watched Girls is so overwhelming, so beautiful, such a call in the dark that “you are not alone,” that I want everyone to get that. Which is why I want to hear stories from all kinds of creators, and why I’ve been making a concerted effort to search out those stories in my life for the few years.

But I want to state for the record that Girls was what opened that window for me. I’d heard pleas for diversity before it, and understood, because I like stories from people who aren’t like me, but didn’t understand this need to see yourself on screen and in stories. Until I did, and it felt like magic. It felt like Lena Dunham, with her writing, and acting, as well as the acting of Allison Williams & Zosia Mament, (and to a lesser extent Jemima Kirke, because I don’t see a lot of myself in Jessa. Though I do see several of my friends) saw my heart, and suddenly the world was brighter.

Everyone should get that feeling, and Girls gave me that feeling, and I will miss it terribly now that it’s over. I’ll miss it the same way I miss the friends I had when the show started. A lot of those people are not in my life anymore, because adulthood is complicated.

I Didn’t Ask To Be A Half-Blood

LightningThiefPlay-300x300In case you’re new, you may not know that I have a few what I call “baseline” obsessions. They’re not the fundamentals of nerdiness, as deep in my bones as Star Wars, Harry Potter or Les Mis. But they’re things I come back to over and over, with love and joy and excitement, but I can detach myself enough to view them critically. Batman, The Collective Television Work of Aaron Sorkin, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, Game of Thrones. 

A big one, a big big one is the connected mythological work of Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson And The Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase And The Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo, are semi-annual joys to visit. (One book generally comes out in the spring, another in the fall…) They’re also, one of the earliest bits of nerd bonding that Aless and I came to. (The summer we became besties Sea Of Monsters, the movie, came out. We moaned over it’s disappointments together.) So, when we learned the there was going to be a musical of The Lighting Thief, we got tickets as soon as possible for the first Saturday night performance.  I also reread all of the Greek/Roman books.

The show itself is really great, capturing the sort of cheeky, totally epic fun of the books, and giving fans a lot to grab on to, especially given the various characters on display. At Camp Halfblood, necessary for the plot characters Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Luke are joined by Clarisse LaRue, Silena Beuaregard and Katie Gardner, with a brief mention of Charles Beckindorf. (Though it’s that he’s cheating on Silena, something he would NEVER DO. HE DIED LOVING HER SO MUCH THAT HE WAITED TO ENTER ELYSIUM FOR HER!) Grover sings a whole song about Thalia’s sacrifice, and there’s even a cameo in the Lotus Hotel and Casino of a girl who’s been there since May of 1939. (Yes, demigods, we see, though only for a moment, Bianca DiAngelo! She also mentions her brother. Aless and I spazzed accordingly)

As a musical it’s entertaining, with a few truly good songs, though the theater lover in me, did have to roll my eyes at a few elements. “We get it, you love Rent!” I mumbled at one point, while Chris McCarrell as Percy raged against his bad luck to a pounding drum beat while jumping around a set constructed mostly of scaffolding. But McCarrell really did well with a character I have a great deal of affection towards and said song, “Good Kid,” has been stuck in my head since leaving the theater. I was equally impressed with Kristen Stokes as Annabeth, particularly her big solo song, but my favorite cast member was James Hayden Rodriguez, who played Luke Castellan as well as Ares and a couple of other parts. (Most of the cast doubled or tripled roles.) Luke is definitely in my top 3 favorite Riordan characters (Number 1 is Leo Valdez and the 2 spot rotates between Luke and Rachel Elizabeth Dare, depending on my mood.) And this performance really got what I liked about Luke, the charm, the anger, the sheer heartbreaking grief when this guy you can’t help but like stabs you in the back.

I was really happy with the show and even happier to see it with my best friend. (I came cosplayed as Annabeth, and Aless provided us some blue food.) We then proceeded to drink approximately all of the Tequila in The Village, but overall we had a great night, and now I’m just waiting on the cast album.

And the possibility of a sequel? Maybe? While the escalating weirdness and ballooning cast of Percy Jackson might make for a tough fit on stage, I’d still love to see this group give it a shot.

Ever Just The Same, Ever A Surprise

Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast is not my favorite Disney movie. I love it a lot, and I still think it’s one of the greatest examples of a film musical. (Right behind Singin In The Rain and The Sound Of Music.)  So I had similar if not the same expectations as everyone going into the movie last weekend.

I wasn’t disappointed. Baffled, unsure, and impressed, for sure, but never disappointed.

The basics of Beauty And The Beast remain as they always have been, but the new film manages to add wrinkles and twists to the story you know that are surprising enough to make watching the film engrossing. The characters we know and love are given turns in their paths and depths revealed in their wake.

If I sound a little too poetic I’m sorry, but I was very happy with this movie. I’m obsessed with this cast, with the decision made in it’s screen play, and I could babble on for days about the visual, but I guess I have to focus on one thing at a time.

Let’s start with the cast. Emma Watson is delightful as Belle. There’s none of Hermione’s intensity or bossiness in her quiet thoughtful French village girl, and that’s something of a relief. Watson’s voice is noticeably autotuned in spots, but when it isn’t has a lovely sing song quality that I think suits the piece quite well. Dan Stevens brings a mournful heartbreak to the Beast and “For Evermore” is an excellent addition to the canon of Howard Ashman penned Disney songs. These two were also wonderful together. Kevin Kline. I wish Kevin Kline were in more movies. The only reason I can think that he isn’t is that he is not inclined to be, because he’s ALWAYS SO GOOD! Ian McKellan is wonderful if underused. There’s a lot of comedy to Cogsworth that I think got lost in the more serious tone taken on the overall film, but both he and Emma Thomspson do exceedingly well with their limited scope. I would watch Audra McDonald read the phone book as long as she got to hit a few above the staff notes and the movie grants her that and then some. Ewan McGregor acquits himself well with Lumiere, the one of the servants who I think gets to maintain their original charm. This is probably because Lumiere is the most *ahem* flamboyant, (pun  not intended) his light (Damn, keep walking into those) is harder to dampen.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad are flawless and I want more of them doing musical theater. I hope this movie shows the mainstream what theater people have known about Gad for a long time. There’s more to him than Olaf, not that mainstream comedy has the kind of roles that really suit Gad, but he’s really great here, and Evans makes Gaston’s particular brand of masculine menace chilling.

The screenplays new wrinkles would constitute spoilers if I talked about them too deeply, but I will talk about the deepening characterizations, starting with Gaston and LeFou! The codifying of LeFou’s queerness is interesting, especially as it dawns on him that his adoration of Gaston is both troubling and misplaced, giving a comic sidekick an actual arc is something that I always support and it’s executed well here. Gaston is shown here as a soldier and returning golden boy who finds the provincial town dull after the horror and glory of war. Which is way more interesting than a blustering hunter and a good deal more frightening. He’s enamored of Belle not just because she’s beautiful (though that helps) but because she’s, well, disinterested. There’s an undercurrent of “yes, you and I are above this place” to his attempts to woo her, and that’s fascinating to me.

Maurice also gets a makeover, made less of a buffoon and more of an eccentric and it works. Belle and The Beast, both become wounded motherless children, searching for a connection anywhere they can find it, and it makes their romance deeper, sweeter and sadder all at once.

I didn’t love all of the changes. It seemed strange to turn the village from a quiet, sleepy, slightly backward hamlet to some kind of patriarchal hellscape a la The Republic of Gilead where women aren’t allowed to learn to read and if they’re unmarried or without a father’s protection they’re thrown out into the streets to beg. This seems extreme for a fairytale that’s about seeing past first impressions and I did feel the loss of some of the comedy.

But there’s something deeply instinctual about fairy tales, and Disney’s take on these stories that have been with us forever is so deep in the company’s roots, I’m not surprised that they’re able to execute things well.

Run, Princess, Run: Walt Disney World Trip Report 2/22/2017-2/28/2017

IMG_2890

I bet you want a newsy and detailed retelling of my Disney World Trip don’t you? (Well, you’re getting one regardless). I should note that the title of this post was almost, “Everything Takes Longer Than Reenie Thought It Would” (This also applies to why I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve also been working on other writing…and not watching things that aren’t on my DVR…and Buffy, I’ve been watching a ton of Buffy…)

Wednesday 2/22/2017: Wine and Gathering

I always consider a vacation’s beginning from the moment work or school ends the night before. So, once I exited the doors of my office and blared “How Far I’ll Go” on my car stereo, I was on vacation. I got home to find my mom, Mike, his friends Owen and Meg (who were watching Bella, Mike’s puppy for the week!) as well as Mary and my friend Dino and Meg, who were joining us as a surprise for Joe. Much wine was drank, steak was eaten, puppy care and trip plans were discussed.

Kristi showed up later, with her husband (my cousin) Sean, and we all chatted some more. Kristi was staying over because we were taking a very early flight. We didn’t sleep more than a few hours. (TOO EXCITED) and thus, set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday 2/23/2017: Be Our Guest!

Kristi and I required an Uber to the airport as my mother was NOT getting up at 4 AM to drive us. “If I wanted to do that, I’d be on the plane with you.” She has a point. After a slight panic attack because no Ubers appeared to be answering the call, I switched over to Lyft and one showed up 15 minutes later. I am converted, I’m a Lyft person now. (They also let you tip in ap! So much easier!). Our drive was pleasant and quick, as was the check and security process. (Not always a guarantee at Newark airport, let me tell you!) We settled in with coffees as we waited to board.

The flight was equally pleasant, and I watched Beauty And The Beast because it was a free option. Right as Belle and Prince Adam (NEERRRDDD) kissed and froze in time forever as a stained glass window, the plane descended, and we were in sunny Orlando.

Then came Magical Express. This was my first time using the service (it wasn’t available when we stayed at the Contemporary, Juli and I stayed off site, and it doesn’t service The Swan) and while you can’t beat the price (INCLUDED!) we waited well over forty minutes for our bus.

IMG_2457

Bus that finally loaded us after 40 Minutes!

It was fine, since we landed 30 minutes early, but I was frustrated. We got to Saratoga Springs Resort, handed our carry ons to bell services, got changed and headed to The Disney Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our race stuff. We basically ran through there, because we had a 2 PM reservation at San Angel Inn, but regardless, we got our bibs, snapped a few pictures and hopped in a cab to the Boardwalk.

IMG_2449

After getting my Annual Pass (MORE OF THESE REPORTS COMING) synched with my Magic Band, we wandered World Showcase on our way to check in to our “Romantic Lunch By Candelight.” So began the long weekend of “Are you sisters?” “No, cousins,” which tends to go on everytime that Kristi and I go someplace together.

I really liked San Angel Inn, though I liked Hacienda De San Angel for dinner better. We shared Queso Fundido (Melted Cheese!) and I had enchiladas, plus a delicious Hibiscus Margarita. The ambiance of the restaurant is unbeatable and it was a truly festive way to kick off our trip.

IMG_2484

Not a bad view for lunch right?

We then decided to roll the dice on Frozen Ever After, since we had nothing better to do, but then got the message from my mom that she and Mike and Mary had landed, so we decided to head back to the resort, rather than wait another half hour for a ride we planned to do the next day anyway.

Barely taking a minute to settle into our villa, we four Nayden ladies, headed to Magic Kingdom to ride Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and of course, eat at Be Our Guest! Splash Mountain gets me everytime. I’m never sure if it’s worth the time and mess, but it’s always so much fun, I leave with a huge smile on my face. I was even more excited to see Mary and Mom’s reaction Mine Train, and they were both giddy, but even more excited to share it with my dad and Joe in a few days time. (They were right to be, both were floored by it).

IMG_2465

Kristi was cute, the rest of us were just screaming…

Finally came Be Our Guest. We checked in, waited about 10 minutes (not bad, the hostess warned they were running 15 minutes behind, so I guess we would have gone right in had they been on time) and were escorted right to our table.

Walking into Be Our Guest is one of my favorite Disney World experiences, I always find myself inhaling sharply. But the way Mary giddily clapped when she learned that after dinner we’d get to meet Beast was even better. (I’d managed to not spoil that detail for them. I’m proud of myself). We had champagne, soups, two bottles of wine and a variety of entrees. (Seafood & steaks) We obviously shared some grey stuff and a lemon merange cupcake before moving on.

IMG_2473

This might be my favorite picture of the whole trip. We Nayden ladies clean up pretty well, I think.

Moving On wound us up seeing the tail end of “Once Upon a Time” the new projection show and heading back to the villa for, what else! More wine. Most of our group had rendezvoused by this point and it was quite the fiesta. It had nothing on the next day though.

Friday 2/24/2017: But, this one goes to 11

So, Friday morning, Mike, Joe and Dad had decided to play golf, and Mom decided to sleep in a bit, and Meg and Dino headed to Magic Kingdom, so Mary, Kristi and I headed to Epcot, missing park opening by a breath because of BUSES being SLOW, with one thing on our mind, “FROZEN,” we didn’t bolt, but worked pretty quickly, back to Norway and lined up for Frozen Ever After and this time, DID NOT bail halfway through the line, which, I should note moves very quickly, at least in the morning. We waited about 45 minutes, which for a ride this new and popular is not bad at all, especially given the cuteness of the line. You weave through Kristoff’s ice house, Arrendell’s town square and Oaken’s Tokens before boarding. But remember, we were there before 9:30 AM, which I get is a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

Anyway, the ride itself, really is great. On Sunday, Meg and I would chat about how her trip to the Wizarding World that day reminded her of being a kid at Disney, and I said Frozen Ever After did the same for me. The storyline that you’re on a boat to Elsa’s ice palace to celebrate the anniversary of her coronation is perfect, the animatronics are SUPERB (Olaf and Sven in particular are impressive) and the fact that it keeps the structure of Maelstrom makes it somehow able to be both nostalgic and brand new at the same time. It’s a real triumph. Worth a 2 hour wait? Absolutely not. Worth 1 hour? For SURE.

IMG_2547

Kristi and I Disneybounding Anna and Elsa. I love these topiaries.

After our Frozen adventure we walked around admiring the topiaries (Flower and Garden didn’t start officially until the day after we left, but we got the benefit of all the pretty!) shopped in World Showcase and met Belle.

IMG_2534

Bonjour Mademoiselle Belle!

By this time we met up with Mom, and waited on the others by more shopping. (Mom even bought Mouse Ears! I’m so proud!) We also registered for the Express Bus, which is meant to cost $19 for a single day and $29 for seven days. This is a very good service that takes you from park to park, by passing the gates and security, at specific times on every hour for each park. It was AWESOME, and I highly recommend it, except I hope that most people don’t do it, because the buses not being crowded was one of the best parts. Once we met up with everyone we headed over to ride test track. Knowing that we’d never beat the boys in power, Kristi, Meg and I decided to focus on making our car environmentally friendly and cute. We did so. I was proud of us. After that we rode Nemo, which is a cute ride and gets you into The Seas, and since aquariums are in Mary’s top 10 favorite things in the world, I knew we wouldn’t be allowed to skip it. Then we began our drink around the world.

IMG_2590

At the beginning of our boozy, boozy journey. (Note Mom’s mouse ears.) This is a close second to the hugging on Mainstreet Pic when it comes to favorites.

Let’s just say, we finished, but it was a bit of a rush, it was very sloppy and there were a few tears (mostly from me.) (They weren’t the nice emotional kind) (they were the mean drunk trying to make the people I love feel bad about themselves kind) (I’m very sorry) (I was VERY drunk) We had lunch at Yorkshire County Fish Shop (YUM!) and dinner at Spice Road Table (SUPER YUM). We then headed to the Boardwalk, hit Abracadbar and then Jelly Rolls and then took like 2 hours to get home because of BUSES being THE WORST.

Saturday 4/25/2017: Animals, A Galaxy Far, Far Away & A Start of A Challenge

Getting 10 grown ass, hung over adults out the door in the morning when there are only two bathrooms is a challenge, but we did it! (YAY!) We did miss extra magic hour (booo) but were in the gates at Animal Kingdom by 9:30, and on Kilamanjaro Safaris by 9:45 and it was, and I say this in all seriousness, the best version of the ride I’ve ever been on. The weather was hazy and cool so all of the animals were out and about. We saw the baby giraffe and baby elephant, as well as an adolescent elephant and 3 of the lions walking around their rock. It was really, very, very exciting.

IMG_2687

Puppy Elephant! (This is an ancient It’s Always Sunny reference…)

IMG_2709

Just LION around!

Next came Everest, which we all rode single rider and then we all split up a bit. I needed to eat, so I went over to Harambe Market and picked up a chicken skewer (delicious) and a few people hopped on Kali Rapids (It was too cold for me). We then hopped on the Express Bus over to Epcot, which was great because we ran into an old friend, Matt Ban and his wife Erin. We had a lovely catch up with Matt and then headed into The Seimens VIP Lounge, courtesy of Joe’s coworkers. This was excellent, in caffinating us, and getting us right on to Spaceship Earth as we exited. Then we headed to Studios and to Backlot Express For Lunch.

I had a Diet Coke and the Darkside Chicken and Waffles because A) Chicken and Waffles are delicious. B) I tend to eat quicky southern food when I find it, because it’s not always readily available in the burbs of NYC where I live. I am also a sucker for sausage gravy, chicken fried steaks and grits! C) These waffles had Darth Vader on them! I also got the BB8 Souvenier cup because I want nothing more than to walk around a convention in my Poe cosplay drinking out of BB8’s head. (I know, I have weird goals.)

IMG_2717

VADER. On WAFFLES. Also, Joe looks very serious in this picture.

As we sat eating lunch, and watching Trials of The Temple (Nothing better than those kids fighting Darth Vader) (Except maybe Mike and I explaining who The Seventh Sister is to everyone else) (Mike is also pretty into Rebels. This warms my heart) Mary and Joe mentioned maybe going to Magic Kingdom after dinner and I pointed out that 4 park day is something Disney Geeks strive for. This made the decision for them, pretty much . After eating, we opted to head over to Muppets 3-D while we waited for our Star Tours Fastpasses to kick in.

I love The Muppets and so much of that comes from family memories involving them, so it was nice to share this show with my family for a change. Next some of us rode Star Tours. We were taken to Hoth, and intercepted by Porkins, which, YAY! Porkins! (Which I exclaimed, quite loudly and embarassingly.)  Then, after our spy was revealed. (Maybe one of these trips I’ll just ride Star Tours over and over again, until I’m the spy) we were taken to Naboo by Yoda’s orders and escorted by Gungans to our final landing place.

I really enjoyed a completely different ride from the last time I rode. Though I wouldn’t have minded the Jakku scene as I never object to BB8 or Finn. Also, this one involves gungans and I mean, REALLY?

Anyway, after that we hit Tower of Terror and Star Wars Launch Bay, including a very fun visit with Chewie and a discussion with Mike about how Ahsoka’s light saber being in the case with the others was awesome, (we are less impressed by Ezra’s, because, it’s Ezra, but his Saber/Blaster combo is a cool design.) (Talking about Star Wars with my brother is one of my favorite things in the world and we did a lot of it on this day) it was time to head back to Saratoga Springs.

IMG_2741

It’s weird they only have one of Ahsoka’s sabers, as she fights with two. (Yes I’m using present tense.) (#ahsokalives) (I’m in denial)

IMG_2761

We were all really psyched to meet Chewie!

IMG_2777

So scared of The Tower of Terror!

We had an early dinner planned since Kristi and I had to go to bed at like 8 o’clock for race day. From everything I’ve heard and seen in pictures the 4 park day was a hit though, and I went on to have my own later. Dinner was at The Turf Club Bar And Grill at Saratoga Springs and while I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to eat there, if you’re staying at the hotel, it’s worth one night’s relaxed meal. I had steak and a glass of wine.

This was followed by a hasty trip back to the villa, where Kristi and I prepped for the next morning, watched the first of half of High School Musical were asleep by 9:00 PM.

Sunday 2/26/2017: Run Like The Wind! And May All Your Wishes Come True

My alarm went off at 2:30 AM and by 3 Kristi and I were on a bus to the race. After getting coffee, waiting in line, and then using the facilities, we opted to head to our corrals. And thus began the crying. (The good kind this time) I met and chatted with several of the women in my corrall, and waited about an hour after official race time to get moving. I really enjoyed the race itself, despite it taking a very long time. I wrote on facebook later that day about how amazing it felt to be running up Mainstreet USA, hearing my family cheer for me. I really, really adored the whole experience and I’m all about trying to go for this again.

IMG_2885

Crossing the finish line! I was BUSHED, but I did it!

After the race, there was another quick detour to the villas, where we showered, changed and then headed to Magic Kingdom. We ate hotdogs, rode The Jungle Cruise (which is bizarrely the most important ride to my family.), rode the Mine Train, which did in fact, garner the enthusiasm I expected, and then split off. Kristi and I decided we didn’t want to wait on the half hour line for Big Thunder Mountain, so we headed over and rode Pirates of The Carribean, which is always a treat, and we got front row seats, so SUPER BONUS treat. We got coffee, wandered through Tomorrowland, considered getting on the Peoplemover, but discovered that it had a line, so we refused to ride on principle. We were planning on meeting the rest of the group back in Fantasyland to get on Small World with Fastpasses, so we decided to head to the Carousel, as neither of us had ever ridden it before. (It was super fun, especially because we were already dressed for dinner.)

IMG_2869

Small World is a secret favorite of mine and I was worried that we weren’t going to get on it this trip, so I was happy that Mom requested we get the fastpass. (None of us were willing to wait more than a half hour and Magic Kingdom was VERY crowded.) Pointing out our favorite dolls was great as was singing the song over and over again. After that, we did some shopping on Main Street and headed over to the Contemporary to have dinner, not until after we’d said good bye to Joe. He assures me that he had a great time on his first trip, and as he has a work commitment out west for the next year, he and Mary are already talking about going to Disneyland at some point. (I am very jealous…and would NEVER crash their vacation. Also I probably can’t afford it…) He boarded a bus back to Saratoga and an Uber to the airport and it was all over for him.

IMG_2873

Favorite people and favorite place! I’m a lucky girl!

The rest of us hopped on the Monorail and we checked in to California Grill and rode up. This was probably the non race, non introducing my family to new things, part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. Ever since I entered a constant state of Disney Planning I’ve been DYING to eat at California Grill and watch Wishes from it’s fabled decks.

We settled in at our table, enjoyed the sunset over Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as some amazing sushi, charcuterie, and cocktails and then the main meal…I had scallops which were perfect, we tried a wine variety that we hadn’t before and then each got a desert.

We were finished by around 6:45 and after a bit of hemming and hawing, decided that our best bet was to hang out at the bar until 8, rather than go elsewhere and rush back. Meg and Dino rejoined us (they’d spent the day at Universal) and we made friends with some regular Disney runners, who were happy to encourage Kristi and I in our pursuit of more Disney races. And then Wishes.

IMG_2930

Pretty good view, right?

I’m really going to miss these fireworks when they go, and I’m even more grateful that I’m going to have one more shot to see it before it’s retired. But seeing them from this new vantage point was incredible, and watching them with the people I love so much was even better. Having space to breath sing and even dance a little bit took our breath away. After the fireworks, Dad and I headed back into the park, to ride The Haunted Mansion and I was reminded, as we wound along the path from The Contemporary to Main Street, of one of my all time favorite Disney Memories.

When I was in seventh grade we took a trip and stayed at The Contemporary. We were never a “at park opening” family. For a lot of reasons, we often stayed off site, Mom, Mary and Mike are not early risers by nature and we never went at super busy times, so it wasn’t really necessary, but after missing out on Space Mountain and a few other rides, Dad woke me up early on our last day and we went to the park, just us. We saw the opening show, which we did not previously know existed. (“Really?” Juli’s reaction to that when I mentioned being excited to see it again to her.) This quick trip back into the park was a lot like that. We hopped right on Haunted Mansion, pointing out our favorite ghosts and gags. We also talked about planning strategies for next years trip. (Yes, really, my “we’re not going back until we have grandchildren” parents are now considering a second trip inside of two years.)  Then, the rest of the group met up with us at the buses and we split off between people who wanted to get another drink at Disney Springs and people who had run a half marathon that day and needed to sleep.

We watched bits of the Oscars as we fell asleep, and planned for our four park day the next day.

Monday 2/27/2017: 4 Parks, 1 World, and STKs

We got up earlyish in an attempt to get to Studios first thing and ride The Great Movie ride. We were once again thwarted by BUSES, and absurdly long security lines. But we still managed a relatively brief wait for the ride.

IMG_2952

And a fun pic in front of it!

We went to find out the Express Bus situation. We had a 1 PM reservation at Tiffins, and it was now about 11:30. So our thought was to go to Epcot (I had some souvenier pick up that I wanted to do in France) and then head to AK for lunch. We’d just missed the Epcot bus, so decided to try our luck at Animal Kingdom, and checking in to lunch early. It was absolutely the right call. We got on the Animal Kingdom bus, walked right over to Tiffins, checked in, settled in at Nomad Lounge, and waited maybe a grand total of 25 minutes for our table.

IMG_2946

Also more pictures!

Tiffins was number 2 on my “I can’t wait for this” list after California Grill, and I was so glad we were able to fit it in. Nomad Lounge is really cozy and beautifully themed, and the food at Tiffins was sublime. Mom and I split a fish entree, Kristi & Mom both had salad an I had the lobster popcorn soup, which GUYS, OMG yum! I really like the concept of this space too, that it’s inspired by the travels of Imagineers designing Animal Kingdom. It’s subtle in the same ways that Animal Kingdom is.

We then circled back to Epcot, heading to France to get me a tee shirt and everyone some ice cream. It was our quickest stop, but it counted because we ate food.

IMG_2943

Then it was on to Magic Kingdom. We had fast passes for Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, rode them both and then headed back to the hotel to get showered and dressed for our second girls night (this time minus Mary, who’d left that morning. This whole day was just Mom, Kristi and I).

IMG_2934

Hooray for meeting goals!

Mom had expressed, way back in our ADR making days wanting to eat at “not a Disney restaurant.” Kristi and I were shocked by this request, bubble dwelling Disney people that we are. Juli suggested STK, where she ate with her sister Jenn, and which is, a high scale chain, including spots in Manhattan and Vegas, but we wouldn’t have to worry about a cab, as it’s at Disney Springs. The food was excellent. I really love steakhouses, I think there’s something special and communal about that style of eating. You pick your meat, your group chooses your sides and everyone shares, and everyone’s wallets are a little lighter (Often a lot lighter, depending on the place) and pants a little tighter. This was a very fun night, we ate on the patio.

Our next mission after dinner was shopping. Hitting World of Disney is always a treat, even if we were in a bit of a rush this go round. We also went to the D-Co Op, which is my favorite shopping spot in the whole of WDW.

2/28/2017: Dig a Little Deeper

It was back to just Kristi and I on Tuesday, we once again missed the opening (stupid buses!) but were on line to meet Cinderella and Elena by 9:10, and then Rapunzel and Tiana by 9:45. It was really fun. I like meeting the princesses, and have made it a staple of my trips, but I really love meeting Rapunzel, I’ve never had a bad or boring or awkward interaction with her. This particular go round however, was exceptionally fun, all four.

IMG_2990

Her crown is very shiny.

I know very little about Elena but she talked with us a lot. (The group ahead of us had a bunch of kids, all for autographs, so she was filling). We were again asked if we were sisters. We then talked to Cinderella about the race. She congratulated us, and mentioned that she could never run that much, she’d lose all her glass slippers and the Prince would be going crazy.

IMG_2988

We wished Tiana a happy Mardi Gras and she chatted with us about the special food she was making for the day.

IMG_2982

And then Rapunzel. Seriously, I love this meet and greet. We mentioned that we’d met Eugene the other day, and she also congratulated us on our run. We talked about the smoldering (“He does that to everybody. He knows it doesn’t work on me.”) And then took a selfie.

IMG_2977

Another top five picture from the trip!

This was basically our, “wander around and take in Magic Kingdom” day. We also grabbed coffee and breakfast at Gaston’s Tavern, and then did Enchanted Tales with Belle, which is adorable, and made us wish we’d worn our medals, because we were pretty sure we would have then been in the show and gotten a pic with her. AH well.

IMG_3057

My favorite thing about this restaurant? The background music is the song “Me” from the Broadway musical version. Seriously, such a delight!

Next up we hit Main Street and watched Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, which I liked a lot. It didn’t move me the way that Dream Along With Mickey did, but I appreciate the focus on the newer characters and music. It’s always nice to see Tiana get her due, and the costumes on the dancing cast members really blew me away. (This is kind of like how my mom and I get obsessed with wigs on TV. I fixate on costuming…go figure) Then we checked in with our fast pass to meet Mickey.

IMG_2997

Seriously, I LOVE these costumes.

Being more prepared for the talking Town Hall Mickey this time around made the whole thing way less awkward than when Juli and I met him. He performed his card trick for us and then we realized that we needed to eat.

IMG_2957

My eyes are closed, but I love the Big Guy!

I suggested making our way to Liberty Square and going to Columbia Harbor House. (I had a hankering for a Lobster Roll) but we went via Adventure land, and decided to see what the wait would be for a table at Skipper Canteen. The hostess said 20 minutes, so we decided to do it, taking menus so we could order right away once we sat.

It way have been the best decision we made all day. The wait was much closer to 10 minutes than 20, and comfortable in rocking chairs on a fanned porch in front of the restaurant. And as for the restaurant itself. Can I say, wow? The space is really beautiful, and it’s got the killer Jungle Cruise wit.

I also know that the decision to serve beer and wine at sit down restaurants in The Magic Kingdom is controversial. While I logically understand the rule, and the reaction against breaking it, the part of me that was tired and hot and happy to be in air conditioning, was even happier to be given a cold can of Blue Moon and a frosty glass to drink it out of. I also had the Char Siu Pork, which was incredible.

We next finished out our trip by riding The Little Mermaid. Kristi said, “that ride is way better after a beer.” She would be right. We were singing and dancing the whole time. Then it came time to leave. The ride back to the airport on Magical Express was much nicer than the ride in. We only had one other stop and I was at my gate with about 30 minutes to spare.

So ends the trip report. I’ve spent two weeks putting it together and I’m pretty proud of it. Next trip is a solo jaunt for Dapper Day, so I’ll be there from April 28 to May 1. The to do list includes, Rivers Of Light, Sunset Safari, lunch at Be Our Guest and one last hit of Wishes.